Ireland urges European Commission to disable big tech’s algorithmic recommender systems

The proposed binding code by Ireland’s regulator aims to disable systems relying on extensive user profiling to empower users and safeguard children from harmful content, potentially leading to fines of up to €20 million.

Teens in circle holding smart mobile phones

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has called on the European Commission to follow Ireland’s lead in curbing big tech’s algorithmic recommender systems. Ireland’s new regulator proposes a binding code requiring platforms to disable systems that rely on extensive user profiling, aiming to empower users and protect children from harmful content.

These systems, which personalise user experiences based on search history and location data, are criticised for promoting harmful or extremist content. Ireland’s new regulator, Coimisiún na Meán, has proposed a binding code requiring platforms like TikTok and YouTube to disable recommender systems relying on extensive user profiling.

The goal is to give users more control over what they see online and protect children from profiling and cyberbullying. Violations may result in fines of up to €20 million, pending a European Commission review for compatibility with the EU legislation.

Why does it matter?

Platforms benefit from user attention for advertising, but recommender systems can amplify engagement, potentially promoting harmful content and real-world violence, as seen in the recent Dublin riots. Amnesty International’s study on TikTok highlighted another example, showing multiple recommended videos romanticising or encouraging suicide for a simulated 13-year-old user.